In retrospect, last week’s gift guide for movie geeks was seriously lacking in one important element: it needs more Criterion. The Criterion Collection, as you presumably well know, is the preeminent home video label for film nerds, lavishing their second-to-none skills of restoration and supplementation on titles both well-known and obscure. So yes, a week-late addendum: if you’re shopping for cinephiles, a title or two from the Criterion Collection should do the trick.
Alas, which titles? At 600+ films (and growing monthly), sifting through the collection is a daunting task. Thankfully, the label is more than happy to help out; one of the most enjoyable time-killers on their site is their section of Top 10s, in which film fans from across the spectrum — directors, screenwriters, actors, cinematographers, comedians, critics, etc. — select their ten favorite Criterion titles, often with concise mini-reviews for each. After the jump, in a bit of meta list construction, we’ve picked out ten of our favorite folks from that page, and a few of their recommendations as well.
Few filmmakers are as immediately identified with Criterion as Anderson, whose entire filmography (save one title, The Fantastic Mr. Fox) has appeared under the Criterion banner. When approached to make his list, Anderson decided “to simply quote myself from the brief fan letters I periodically write to the Criterion Collection team.” His selections include The Friends of Eddie Coyle (“It’s not upbeat”), The Taking of Power by Louis XIV (“The man who plays Louis cannot give a convincing line reading, even to the ears of someone who can’t speak French — and yet he is fascinating”), and his #1 pick, Ophuls’ The Earrings of Madame De… Of that disc, he writes: “This interview with Louise de Vilmorin on the Earrings of Madame De… DVD is very funny. She is already mesmerizing and charming and unlike anybody you’ve ever met — and then she starts talking about the movie. She hated it, in fact? Max Ophuls made a perfect film.”